Since the advent of the internet in the late 90’s, despite some initial scepticism, Banks are increasingly present in cyber space offering new products and services. The maturity of the internet-banking channel evolved (extremely slowly) from providing access to basic account information to allowing customers to manage more complex products. This, now traditional, channel continues to evolve with the addition of new Open Banking features, like consent management dashboards and new payment methods.

After 2010, the mobile banking movement gathered momentum and most banks thought they should release mini-versions of their internet banking website so they could fit in a small screen. Since then, the overall number of mobile banking apps keeps growing and banks keep insisting on adding more features, launching new versions and, of course, completely disregarding how many rating stars they have on app stores. Please stop. Your customers don’t want a better, shinier, voice activated mobile banking app. Actually your customers don’t want more apps at all.
Over the last few years, with the increasing utilisation of digital mobile services, customers started to develop a new condition called “app fatigue”. Yes, they are tired. They have way too many apps cluttering their phones’ home screens. Research from comScore finds that mobile users spend 85 percent of their time using just five apps.

Moreover, a Gartner survey shows that 41 percent of users are not downloading more apps while 20 percent are actually downloading fewer apps. Developing new mobile apps is so 2017.
So, what is the alternative? Here is the answer: Convergence.

The Open Banking standard took industry interoperability to a completely new level. Banks are now able to consume and share data from different sources in a standardised fashion, creating new ways to be integrated with their customer’s lifestyle. Having a 5-star mobile banking app is no longer a differentiator, it’s a hygiene factor. What customers want is their lifestyle services (e.g. Uber, Facebook, Airbnb, Fitbit, etc.) connected to their bank account, hence the need for your organisation to partner with digital service providers relevant to your customer base.

Here are some interesting use cases that illustrate how this banking-lifestyle integration could work:

  • Banking and Parking: At Milan Bergamo Airport, cameras scan the license plate of the customer’s vehicle when they enter the car park. When they leave, the parking charge is paid in directly from customer’s current account. Ok, not really innovative, but imagine if public car parks used the same system?
  • Banking and Eating: Singapore-based DBS has begun testing a chatbot that allows customers to order and pay for meals at participating restaurants through Facebook Messenger
  • Banking and Learning: customers of Sbanken are able to view outstanding student debt in their mobile banking app, alongside other loans, based on an integration between the bank’s API-platform and the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund
  • Banking and Automating: Monzo partnered with the world’s largest automation platform, IFTTT (“if this, then that”); allowing users to connect apps, services and devices to each other, then manipulate them via its interface
  • Banking and Laughing (this is serious!): A theatre in Barcelona has set up a pay-per-laugh scheme based on facial recognition technology. A tablet is fitted to the back of each seat, which reads facial expressions and runs up a tab of smirks, chuckles and belly laughs. Each laugh is charged a few cents, and once you’ve reached the value of a full price admission ticket, every subsequent laugh is free. If you think the joke is not funny, you don’t pay.

I’m sure there are many more interesting use cases on how banking services can be integrated with lifestyle service providers, the only problem is these use cases are the exception not the norm. Open Banking allows banks to be more relevant and useful to their customers. As the Open Banking ecosystem becomes more mature, your organisation will have the opportunity to leverage customer data in creative ways and use that to eliminate frictions from everyday experiences like parking or going to the theatre.

Is your organisation treating Open Banking as mere regulatory requirement? Or is your organisation prepared to seize the opportunities created by Open APIs? How can you help your customers to save not only money, but time and stress? The answer is not another mobile app.

About this author

Picture of Marcus Martinez

Marcus Martinez

Director, Consulting

Marcus has over 20 years’ experience working within the financial services sector as both an industry professional and management consultant.

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